FINCH Foundry at Sticklepath, which this year celebrates its 200th anniversary, was the subject of Hatherleigh History Society's meeting last Monday. Hatherleigh resident Steve Forrester related the history of the foundry and explained how the three Rs, Religion, Road and River, had influenced its development. Religion had brought the Finch family to Sticklepath, after a visit by John Wesley had converted the mainly Quaker population to Methodism. The A30 had been built by the Saxons, and the river was needed to drive the water wheels.
William Finch started the foundry and until 1850 hand bellows were used. A water powered tilt hammer transformed the business and up to 400 tools a day could be forged at one time. The business declined in the First World War but carried on until 1960, when the roof collapsed. The National Trust took on the foundry, the last working water powered forge in England, in 1992.
Steve's comprehensive talk inspired anyone who hadn't already visited the foundry to do so in this anniversary year.